Low light SLR photography and my trusty tripod
Due to the documentary nature of my work I will always try and shoot freehand as it gives so much more flexibility in terms of composition. Minimal camera kit also helps put subjects at ease and allows me to capture the very natural images that I am renowned for. There are however times when the lighting situation and subject cry out for my trusty tripod. Food photography, interiors and still life details can all benefit from a more controlled approach which the tripod supports. Basically – situations when people are out of the equation! My respect for the tripod comes largely from influences from my father Derry Brabbs. His landscape and heritage work is all shot using a tripod and he is the master of composition – if it’s not perfect in frame then he won’t take the image. This is still the case even after his transition from transparency film to digital.
A really good example of tripod use is work done for York Steiner School of their annual Advent & Spring Grotto’s. These are magical fairyland environments for the children set up using artificial lighting. My tripod gives me the ability to avoid having to push up the ISO which is what would normally happen in a low light environment. I can set a really long shutter speed whilst keeping a wider aperture allowing me to take in more details of each scene. The other essential piece of equipment is my shutter release cable as on such long shutter openings any use of the camera button would create some camera shake even with the use of the tripod.
So don’t be afraid to get out your tripod and enjoy some low light SLR photography! It is a great tool and can open up some opportunities that just wouldn’t be available if shooting freehand. Sometimes taking a bit more time and control with SLR photography is a good thing. Commercially, it is also a valuable tool if you need to do product shots. I don’t work from a studio but will undertake lifestyle editorial product images for clients. A tripod allows a frame to be set and then within that products and props can be altered to suit.
I’ll follow up this post soon with a piece on shooting in low light with an SLR camera freehand.
Do pay a visit to my website for more examples of my documentary and commercial work: OLIVIA BRABBS PHOTOGRAPHY